If you have any doubt about how some 90% of Americans are being swept out of contention in the national political and economic market, indeed how it is spreading worldwide, look at the lobbying apparatus set up by the money pot that is corporate America, a money pot that grows as the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
And mum is the word. Frackers can kick you out of your home and pay you off if you sign nondisclosure agreements, for example. Secrecy for plutocratic representatives is fostered by business and government. Plutocratic agents everywhere purchase allegiance to their flag. So much money is available for lobbying of all kinds that billionaires can suffocate us with their influence: foster existential fear, employ us requiring silence, oppress with totalitarian influence, and intimidate. How successful are whistleblowers in our culture – public or private? The corporatocracy can effectively shut us off from our share of living prosperity.
In the March 10/17th edition, Lee Fang, a dedicated writer for The Nation, exposes the underground lobbyist army that floods our nation’s capital with its favors, influence, intimidation, and the access behind it, not to speak of the flow of money.
Consider how unbridled these mercenary forces are becoming almost day by day. On the registered surface are 12,281 lobbyists, the numbers declining as laws are weakened, subterfuges are perfected, media resources to protect the public diminished, and even Obama administration executive orders weakening a need to register as lobbyists. American University professor, James Thurber, puts the number of lobbyists close to 100,000, not 12,000. Rather than the reported annual spending figure of $3.2 billion in 2013, Thurber puts the amount at more than $9 billion.
The lure of big money has drawn both Democrats and Republicans to the largesse of lobbying. You have ex-governor Tim Pawlenty doubling in only two months his annual $120,000 salary as governor of Minnesota. You have Chris Dodd, his name on the Dodd-Frank Wall Street regulation bill from before his retirement from the US Senate, making $3.3 million in his second year leading the movie industry lobby. Neither Pawlenty nor Dodd is registered as a lobbyist.
You have MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow told by Koch brother lawyers what she should say about their activities to require drug-testing by the poor in states other than Florida. She declared herself not intimidated. Even public service agents appear to serve the rich using taxpayer money to fight for unethical and merciless conservative causes. For example, you have the state of Louisiana trying to force Moving On to take down a billboard that calls out Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, who aspires to run for president, for denying health care to 242,000 people in Louisiana.
But the payout is huge for the corporate monoliths who lobby. According to McKinsey & Company, “business value at stake from government and regulatory intervention” is about 30% of average earnings. In other words, a few million spent on lobbying and intimidation can reap billions of additional corporate revenue.
Sliding down – top to bottom — the lobbyist structure from the top names of ex-politicians like Zach Wamp, a former congressman and Tom Daschle, former Senate majority leader, you have almost unlimited opportunity for lower level lobbyist support staff. Recent college graduates, many of whom need to pay off average individual loans of $30,000, must feel drawn to lobbyist pay which comes from bloated budgets. Most likely when you factor in a lot of contract work and outsourcing, the estimate of 100,000 lobbyist forces is technically much too small. Jobs that suffer, either from lack of funds or lack of applicants include public service, scientific research, and real non-profit jobs, making our culture poorer.
We don’t address the so-called conservative’s oft-mentioned free market and its engineered favor of sterile jobs – at least in terms of society’s net gain. Massive corporate gains in public policy with its deregulation and monolithic corporations has given us sterile, if not predator careers in the finance industry, Wall Street, corporate law, public relations, and spying. There are spectacle and “smear” newsman, and armies of lobbyists – all pay artificially high salaries and bonuses, smothering out real jobs serving others. Such an engineered culture of sterility stymies imagination, creativity and independence.
Next you factor in the unfair playing field that purchased government has managed to manipulate already. A right-wing Supreme Court goes pro-business. It gave us Citizens United, almost unlimited, undisclosed funding for political campaigns. It heavily favors right-wing causes. It gutted voting rights, opening opportunities for Republican states to suppress voting for Democrats. It shielded corporations from class actions and human rights suits and forced arbitration. It has weakened redress for employee injuries and consumer harm from faulty products. It has enabled states like North Carolina to suppress voting, women’s rights and excuse coal ash pollution.
Setting this up, unlimited and undisclosed campaign spending gave us a historic Republican monopoly of government in North Carolina. Ending progress in the US House with the purchased 2010 election, it gave us a Republican House and a minority filibustered Senate, both obstructing everything moneyed interests don’t want.
The employee, the consumer and the voter are the target of the corporate war which uses money, control and power. In effect, it has bought the means to make most of us second-class citizens.
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